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Full text of "My Country And My People"

x                           INTRODUCTION

is still more than enough of this in both art and literature, but
health is beginning to creep in, the health of life from plain
people living plain and sturdy lives upon their earth. The
young intellectuals are beginning to discover their own masses.
They are beginning to find that life in the countryside, in
small towns and villages, is the real and native life of China,
fortunately still fairly untouched with the mixed modernism
which has made their own lives unhealthy. They are beginning
to feel themselves happy that there is this great solid founda-
tion in their nation, and to turn to it eagerly for fresh in-
spiration. It is new to them, it is delightful, it is humorous, it
is worth having, and above all, it is purely Chinese.

They have been helped to this new viewpoint, too. They
would not, I think, have achieved it so well alone, and it is
the West which has helped them. We of the West have helped
them not only negatively, by exhibiting a certain sort of break-
down in our own civilization, but we have helped them
positively, by our own trend toward elemental life. The
Western interest in all proletarian movements has set young
China to thinking about her own proletariat, and to discover-
ing the extraordinary quality of her country people, main-
taining their life pure and incredibly undisturbed by the world's
confusion. It is natural that such tranquillity should greatly
appeal to intellectuals in their own confusion and sense of
being lost in the twisted times.

Communism, too, has helped them. Communism has brought
about class consciousness, it has made the common man
articulate and demanding, and since modern education in
China has been available to the children of common people,
they have already been given a sort of voice, at least, where-
with to speak for themselves, however inadequately. In the
art and literature of the young Leftists in China there is a
rapidly spreading perception of the value of the common man
and woman of their country. The expression is still crude and
too much influenced by foreign art, but the notion is there.
One sometimes sees these days a peasant woman upon a canvas
instead of a bird upon a bamboo twig, and the straining figure of
a man pushing a wheelbarrow instead of goldfish flashing in
a lotus pool.